The furor surrounding last year's Religious Freedom Restoration Act might have cost the city of Indianapolis as many as 12 conventions and up to $60 million in economic impact, the city's nonprofit tourism arm confirmed Monday evening.
Though they come with some caveats, the numbers from Visit Indy represent the most tangible effects yet of a controversy that city officials and business leaders long warned would cause real damage to Indianapolis' reputation. When Gov. Mike Pence signed RFRA into law last March, it was met with fierce backlash from civil rights groups across the country, who worried that it would allow Hoosiers to discriminate against LGBT people on the basis of religion. Days later, a so-called "fix" was signed into law to clarify that the state law was not intended to override local civil rights protections.
"It’s baffling how delusional Mike Pence is on his claim that there’s no direct correlation between LGBT rights and the Hoosier economy," Drew Anderson, spokesman for the Indiana Democratic Party, said in a statement. "In fact, Pence’s out-of-touch ideology comes from an ideologue — not a governor. When he signed RFRA last year, Mike Pence threw Indiana directly into a $250 million economic panic, including Indianapolis’ $60 million.” Read more via Indy Star